SharpStar FAQ

SharpStar2 precision focusing tool for astrophotography by Lonely Speck

All information on this page applies to both SharpStar2 and the original SharpStar design, unless otherwise noted.

Where can I order?

SharpStar is currently only available via the Lonely Speck website.

Order SharpStar2 (our latest design) here. The original SharpStar design has been discontinued but you can find more information about it here.

How do I use the SharpStar?

Check out our short video tutorial below:

The original SharpStar is shown in the video above. SharpStar2 works the same way.

You can also download a copy of our Quick Start Guide (included with every order).

Why is my SharpStar2 not working? Why is it covered with paper?

If you can’t see any stars (or anything at all) through the SharpStar2, you might still have the factory paper backing applied. Your StarpStar2 may arrive with a layer of paper that protects the SharpStar during the laser manufacturing process and helps protect the surface of the SharpStar during shipping.

sharpstar2-bahtinov-astrophotography-focusing-mask-1 copy

To remove this layer, use your fingernail to gently separate the paper from the SharpStar2 at a corner, then slowly peel the paper away. Gently remove any remnants in a similar fashion. When the paper is completely removed the SharpStar2 should appear clear and transparent, like glass.

I’m having trouble seeing the diffraction spikes in my images.

In order to get the best results from the SharpStar2, there are a few things that may help:

  • Keep the SharpStar2 centered on the filter holder. Depending on the lens, the SharpStar2 may be sensitive to centering. If the SharpStar2 is off center, not all of the diffraction spikes may be visible. Shorter lenses (wide angle lenses) are the most sensitive to centering.
  • Always center a bright target star (or planet) in the frame. The closer the star is to the center of the frame, the better the results.
  • Dark skies make the best results. If the moon is full, contrast in the sky can be diminished and the SharpStar2 may not produce as pronounced of diffraction spikes.
  • If you’re still having trouble, please feel free to contact us.

With which lenses is the SharpStar compatible?

SharpStar2 Compatibility

SharpStar2 in an improved design that builds upon our original SharpStar design. SharpStar2 was designed to work on most DSLR and mirrorless system camera lenses.  As with most wide field astrophotography, SharpStar2 will usually show the best results from relatively large-aperture, or “fast” lenses. The shorter the lens, the smaller the diffraction pattern and the more careful you’ll need to be to center your target star in the viewfinder.

See our SharpStar2 lens compatibility chart below:

sharpstar2-compatibility-chart

In general, the lower the f/number and/or longer the focal length of the lens, the better (e.g. it won’t work well on a 10mm f/3.5 but will work well on a 12mm f/2).

Please note that the focal lengths and f/numbers marked on this chart are the ‘true’ focal lengths and f/numbers. Use the numbers marked directly on your lens, NOT the 35mm equivalent. That means that you should NOT multiply focal length by your camera’s crop-factor before checking the chart.

To demonstrate why higher f/numbers aren’t as good, check out the examples below of the diffraction spikes made with the SharpStar2 on a 16mm lens at different f/number settings:

SharpStar2: Example Diffraction Spikes with 16mm Lenssharpstar-f-number-example

As the f/number increases, the size and visibility of the diffraction spike pattern diminishes. The central spike at f/5.6 is still barely visible, bit it’s a little too difficult to see for us to recommend as a focusing aid. Use the SharpStar2 at lower f/numbers for the best results.

Which filter holder(s) do you recommend?

To mount a SharpStar you will need:

  • Appropriately Sized Square Filter Holder System
  • System Compatible Sized Adapter Ring for Your Lens Filter Thread Diameter

To determine which size filter holder system (67mm, 85mm, or 100mm) and which adapter ring you will need, you will need to know your lens’s filter thread diameter. The filter thread diameter is usually marked in millimeters on the front of your lens with a diameter (⌀) symbol like this:

sharpster-faq-filter-thread-diameter

In this example, the lens shown has a filter diameter of 49mm. Depending on your lens’s filter diameter size, we recommend the following systems:

67mm (lenses up to filter diameter of 62mm):

-and-

85mm (lenses up to filter diameter of 77mm):

-and-

100mm (lenses up to filter diameter of 105mm):

-and-

 

Will the SharpStar fit a fixed hood lens like the Nikon 14-24mm/2.8 or the Rokinon 14mm/2.8?

At the moment, there is no off-the-shelf way to mount a SharpStar or SharpStar2 to fixed hood lenses. Fixed hood lenses often have no filter thread so mounting of a square filter is typically not possible without one of the very large (and expensive) filter holders like the Formatt Lucroit holder or Lee SW150.  The large filter holders for these lenses position the SharpStar too far from the lens element for the SharpStar to work completely as intended.

We’re currently working on a custom SharpStar design called SharpStarWide that will be more suitable for fixed hood lenses. We hope to release SharpStarWide in the near future.

At the moment, there are a few lenses for which we’re directly developing a SharpStarWide:

  • Rokinon/Samyang/Bower 14mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
  • Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8
  • +more

If you have a lens that you would like to see added to this list for SharpStarWide, let us know in the email form below.

Would you like to be notified when the SharpStarWide for fixed-hood lenses is available?
Enter your email and we’ll let you know:

To which fixed hood lens(es) would you like to mount a SharpStarWide?

Do you ship outside the USA?

Yes, at the moment, orders for the SharpStar can be shipped internationally.

Shipping fees vary for all our international orders. International postage fees for small packages were increased as of January 2016 and our current pricing reflects those changes. It’s typically about $15 for packing and shipping to send a SharpStar order outside the USA.

Our international orders are shipped via USPS first-class mail and usually take 7-10 business days to arrive. Tracking may or may not be available depending on the destination. As the buyer, you are responsible for any import taxes (VAT, etc.), duties and custom fees that your country may impose at the time of receipt of the shipment. All international shipments are marked on the customs form as “Merchandise” with an accurate description of the value and contents (“Photographic Filter”) and labeled with the proper six digit HS Tariff Code for photographic filters: 900220.

More FAQs coming soon.

For further questions, just ask in the comments below or contact me directly. -Ian

51 Responses

  1. Gareth Davies September 24, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    Hi Ian,

    I’ve just discovered this amazing web page of yours. I’ve just signed up to the email notification for Sharpstar wide for a Samyang 14mm f/2.8. I’m super excited about it and wondered if you had an approximate idea of when it would be available?
    I’d also be interested in the Cross star effects filter will you be developing this too for the Samyang?

  2. Jeffry Farman September 22, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    Hello,

    great website and tutorials.
    I am interested in the Sharpstar2. I have the Lee 100mm filter system and would like reassurance that your filter will fit the holder.
    Many
    thanks

  3. Robert Mawhinnie September 14, 2016 / 7:44 pm

    I currently use the Cokin X pro series of filters and holder do you have a Sharp star filter that would work on it?

  4. Paul B. Huter September 13, 2016 / 7:06 am

    Hi Ian:

    I bought the SharpStar and the Hitech adapter for my 58-mm lenses. However, when I pull the SharpStar out of the adapter, it moves my focus. Is there a way to avoid this?

    Thanks.

  5. Jonathan September 7, 2016 / 9:50 am

    Hi Ian,

    I’m using a Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 lens. What would be the most affordable (not necessarily cheapest) route for adapter / holder that works well with the Sharpstar 2?

  6. Bill Lazar August 30, 2016 / 9:27 pm

    Hello Ian.

    I would like to get your SharpStar2. However I have a Sigma 20mm f1.4 DG HSM lens. It has a bulbous front element and a fixed lens hood attached to the lens. How can I mount your mask to the lens?

    Thanks.

  7. John August 22, 2016 / 5:57 am

    Very sorry for this question but just want to get a recommendation
    of size, holder and adapter. The lens is 4 /16-35 72mm filter ring

    Thank you

  8. David July 27, 2016 / 6:13 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for your wonderful website and all the work you put into it. My question: with the Rokinon 14mm lens, would it work to just hold the StarSharp2 in front of the lens or to tape it onto the fixed-hood until you develop a holder for such fixed-hood wide-angle lenses?

  9. Aidan Monaghan June 10, 2016 / 2:05 am

    Hi Ian
    I’m interested in purchasing SharpStar2
    In video about the sharpstar2 you also mention at the end the ‘Cross Star effects filter’ is this the same thing as or is SharpStar2 filter or is this an additional accessory?
    Thanks
    Aidan

    • Ian Norman July 5, 2016 / 12:19 pm

      We no longer have a Cross Star effect filter. Might bring it back one day but at the moment we don’t have any more in stock.

  10. Jos Chan May 29, 2016 / 3:41 am

    Hi,
    I am a new SharpStar2 owner. I have a strange problem. First time when I used it against the night sky, I can replicate exactly the centering focus, the vertical line in the middle (INFOCUS) just like your visual guide to precise focus. I am now trying to repeat the same practice, but I can no longer see the vertical line anymore. Please advise.

    • Ian Norman May 29, 2016 / 7:02 am

      Make sure that you position the target star in the center of the frame and that the sharpstar is also centered with the lens.

  11. David Bradley May 3, 2016 / 3:23 am

    Another request here for some way to use the SharpStar with the Samyang/Rokinon SFH-14 holder..

  12. shane April 22, 2016 / 5:47 am

    I’m interested in a sharpstar for the inexpensive SFH-14 ($25) filter holder for Rokinon 14mm/2.8

  13. Tak April 17, 2016 / 9:26 am

    I was wondering which adapter I should get for the Rokinon 24mm F1.4? Do the Formatt Hitech Adapter Rings for 85mm Aluminum Holder for 77mm work on it? I’m not sure this lens has threading for it.

    • Ian Norman April 17, 2016 / 10:10 am

      Yes that’s exactly right. I use the 85mm holder and 77mm adapter on my Rokinon/Samyang 24/1.4

  14. Jo April 10, 2016 / 7:49 am

    Hi Ian, I have a M43 Olympus E-M10 Mark II, which is a 46mm thread. Will the 67mm SharpStar 2 be alright? I’m in the UK and our Amazon has the Formatt Hitech 67mm Aluminium Modular Holder. Is this the only equipment I need for the SharpStar 2 to work or will I need any additional adapted rings or mounts? Thank you!

  15. Cd Cross April 5, 2016 / 1:47 pm

    Hello, I am a little confused on the sharpstar product. I have a A7S and are using a Rokinon 24mm F/1.4. Do I want the Sharpstar or Sharpstar2?

    • Ian Norman April 5, 2016 / 3:40 pm

      I recommend the SharpStar2 as it is improved on all lenses.

  16. Bill Evans March 6, 2016 / 4:12 pm

    Hey Ian,

    Just received your filter and so far so good. Thanks so much. My poor vision really appreciates the help. Any chance you will produce a round version in say 82mm? I use the XUME magnets and it would be pretty sweet to be able to pop on and off this great new tool. Thanks, Bill

    • Ian Norman March 6, 2016 / 4:34 pm

      Hey Bill! Glad to hear you like your SharpStar2

      A round version may be possible and would probably only be recommended for those using the XUME system since removing a screw in filter would be a PITA.

      It will probably be some time before I go down that path: the additional design work needed to make all the different filter sizes, (e.g. 40.5mm through 105mm, etc.) plus sourcing the threaded rings and doing additional assembly is something that I’m honestly not ready to do yet. So, at the moment, the square filters will be our main focus, at least until I can get our manufacturing and fulfillment process smoothed out for lower lead times and faster shipping. I’m also working on a solution for fixed hood lenses, like the Nikon 14-24mm/2.8 and the Rokinon 14mm/2.8 which seems to be a hot request that needs to be met before I start thinking about round SharpStars.

  17. bodi March 2, 2016 / 5:51 am

    Hi Ian, I am using a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 on my canon and can not figure the holder size or ring adapter I would need??
    I saw your configuration above,” I would recommend the 85mm SharpStar2, the Cokin P Holder and Cokin P 67mm Adapter.” Would I use the same set up??

    • Ian Norman March 2, 2016 / 8:52 am

      No, the Rokinon 14mm has no filter thread so there is no way to mount the SharpStar2 at the moment.

  18. bilaly February 21, 2016 / 5:50 pm

    Hi, if I ordered the 85mm model will the sharpstar2 still work fine if adapted down to 67mm? Or even 49m? Thanks for the help.

    • Ian Norman February 26, 2016 / 1:48 pm

      Yes, I use an 85mm SharpStar with a Formatt-Hitech 85mm holder and a 49mm adapter ring all the time.

  19. James February 16, 2016 / 11:58 pm

    Which system would best fit the Fuji X-T1, 23mm 1.4F? (newbie here)

  20. Alex sandoval February 14, 2016 / 11:35 am

    Looking for an adaptor ring to fit my Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens Sony E-Mount (NEX) (Black) (RK12M-E). It has a 67mm diameter thread. Could you recommend me one Ian?

  21. Robert Morales February 13, 2016 / 4:15 am

    I’m new to night sky photography and definitely have difficulty finding perfect focus. My only lens right now is a Canon EF 50mm STM. What parts would I need to be able to use SharpStar?

    • Ian Norman February 13, 2016 / 2:13 pm

      For the Canon EF 50mm STM specifically, which has a 49mm diameter filter thread, the most affordable filter holder would be the Cokin A and 49mm Adapter Kit. That filter holder will work with the 67mm SharpStar2.

    • Brad Autry February 26, 2016 / 12:46 pm

      Without advertising any particular brand, I will mention if you search Amazon for Cokin P compatible filter, you’ll find a range of kits that come with filter holder(s), a set of pretty decent quality metal adapter rings, and some cheap (almost garbage) filters… all for under 20 bucks. The holder is OK, the adapters are pretty good – and that’s basically all you are after. The filters themselves are OK to get your feet wet using these types of ND and grad ND filters.

    • Ian Norman February 26, 2016 / 1:55 pm

      I agree that some of the very affordable off-brand Cokin P compatible holders available on Amazon may provide a good value but their filters usually suck. The holders should, at least, work OK with the SharpStar.

  22. Deborah Loth February 13, 2016 / 1:09 am

    I would love to try your SharpStar with my Nikon f/2.8 14-24 lens. As you probably know, it has been impossible to use filters with this lens. This last year, however, Lee Filters introduced a filter holder for this lens that takes 150mm filters. It’s been great to be able to use a polariser with this lens, and also ND filters. Any chance you will be adding a 150mm SharpStar to your range?

    • Ian Norman February 13, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      I have been looking into making either a 150mm SharpStar and/or an alternate dedicated design that will fit around the hood of specific fixed hood lenses like the Nikon 14-24mm/2.8.

      One of the primary issues is that the Lucroit and other large filter holders that support these lenses often position the filter very far away from the lens element which may pose a problem with how the SharpStar works. If it’s too far from the lens, it might not produce a visible diffraction pattern. Basically, I still have some development and testing before I release something specific for fixed hood lenses so it may be some time before it’s available.

  23. Branton February 11, 2016 / 7:05 pm

    Will that work on my Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8? I am not sure if there’s any holder can fit it?

    • Ian Norman February 13, 2016 / 2:22 pm

      At the moment, I don’t produce a SharpStar that’s large enough to fit the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. I have been looking into making either a 150mm SharpStar and/or an alternate dedicated design that will fit around the hood of specific fixed hood lenses like the Nikon 14-24mm/2.8.

      One of the primary issues is that the Lucroit and other large filter holders that support these lenses often position the filter very far away from the lens element which may pose a problem with how the SharpStar works. If it’s too far from the lens, it might not produce a visible diffraction pattern. Basically, I still have some development and testing before I release something specific for fixed hood lenses so it may be some time before it’s available.

  24. Victor February 11, 2016 / 3:44 am

    Hello Ian! Do you make deliveries to Argentina ? What are the costs of international shipping ? Cheers!!

    • Ian Norman February 13, 2016 / 2:16 pm

      Yes, at the moment we are accepting international orders. I think Argentina is likely around $15 shipping but you’ll need to check by entering your address in the order page. As the buyer, you are responsible for any import taxes, duties and custom fees that your country may impose at the time of receipt of the shipment. All international shipments are marked on the customs form as “Merchandise” with an accurate description of the value and contents (“Plastic Camera Filter Kit”).

  25. Cato Kristiansen February 10, 2016 / 11:32 pm

    Is there any chance that you will produce the SharpStar in 75mm for Lee Seven5?

    • Ian Norman February 11, 2016 / 12:29 am

      It’s certainly a possibility! If anyone else reading this is interested in a Seven5 (75mm) SharpStar2, chime in here!

    • Lee Hale February 21, 2016 / 4:48 am

      I’d appreciate 75mm too for the same reason (Seven5).

    • Doug May 22, 2016 / 11:51 am

      Absolutely would like a seven5 option.

    • Laurence Muller May 25, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Another vote for the Lee Seven5 system

  26. Bill January 13, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    Hey Ian,

    Great. Thanks for the update. I will check back in. I need one! :)

    Best,
    Bill

    • Ian Norman January 14, 2016 / 1:16 am

      Thanks Bill!

  27. Bill January 11, 2016 / 5:04 pm

    It looks like they are all sold out. When will there be more to order? Thanks!

    • Ian Norman January 11, 2016 / 10:33 pm

      Hey Bill,

      I’m currently working on some improvements to our manufacturing and our fulfillment process. When I get everything back in order, I’ll open up stock of orders again. I’m trying to get my lead times under control. Right now I have a backlog of orders with 2-3 week waits. Gotta clear those out and improve how fast I can get them out.

      Ian

  28. Jose Alfredo Sejopoles December 24, 2015 / 3:17 am

    Hello,
    Congratulations for your work!
    I’m interested in purchasing a Sharpstar kit. I live in Brazil (city of Cuiaba-MT). Are you able to send the product to Brazil?
    Thanks!

    • Ian Norman January 8, 2016 / 2:51 pm

      At the moment we are accepting international orders.

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